State GOP Convention and Restoring Direct Elections

-By Doug Ibendahl

The Illinois Republican State Convention next month offers regular Republicans an opportunity to succeed where their GOP lawmakers in Springfield have failed for the past seven years.

Most Republicans in Illinois have at least heard of SB 35 (formerly SB 600). That’s legislation that would once again allow all Republican Primary voters to directly elect the persons who represent them on the Illinois Republican Party’s State Central Committee.

Every Democrat in Illinois has this right to directly elect their senior State Party leadership, and every Republican in Illinois used to have that right. But the party bosses took the right away from us in the late 1980’s in a selfish power grab. The bosses consolidated power and got what they wanted – the ability to profit and make deals with the Democrats free of worry that any State Party official would say a peep. Eliminating direct elections for the members of the State Central Committee turned that governing board into a submissive rubberstamp.

Illinois has been a Blue State ever since the Illinois Republican Party was taken away from Republican voters. When your voice was taken away, so was accountability. The disturbing contribution “funneling” scheme we told you about two weeks ago is just the latest example.

SB 35 has passed out of the State Senate three times since 2005 – that’s counting passage under the bill’s previous designation, SB 600. Each time the reform bill then went to the House side only to be stonewalled by pointless Republicans.

But it’s not just the fault of a few bad State Representatives. Even the Republican State Senators who vote “yes” on the bill in their caucus suddenly go M.I.A. once it reaches the House. Our GOP officials love to complain and make excuses about how they’re powerless in Springfield because the Democrats have such big majorities – but none of them are lifting a finger to make the Illinois Republican Party a vehicle that could be respected and maybe someday win back some power.

The good news is we don’t need our public officials to give us back our vote. I’ve always been about getting this reform done any way we can. So of course I have been and will remain a big proponent of SB 35.

But there’s another way we can get this done without the law change at the heart of SB 35…

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